Prospective

Social impact cryptocurrency should help to bring drinking water within reach of everyone

  • 27 Mar
    2018
  • 2 min

On 22 March, World Water Day, O'Claire, a subsidiary of water purification specialist Sunwaterlife, launched an ICO. Named Watercoin WTR, the purpose of this cryptocurrency is to influence the price of drinking water so as to make it accessible to people in emerging countries.

Some 1.8 billion people all over the world today do not have access to clean drinking water. Every year, 800,000 people die after drinking contaminated water. Now a startup named O’Claire has set out to meet one of the major challenges facing emerging regions by providing access to drinking water for all through a network of ‘Kiosks’ (clean water production units) based on the Blockchain technology developed by Sunwaterlife. The system is very simple. A team of local employees suck water from a non-potable source such as a river through a tube into a container and take it to a Kiosk, where the pollutant elements are filtered out. The Kiosks then supply clean water to local distribution points known as ‘Kiosk fountains’, where local residents can buy drinking water by using pre-paid cards. The idea is that the fountains will all be connected together so as to be able to monitor various parameters such as their current state and the water consumption levels of different zones. The firm tested out two Kiosks in Côte d’Ivoire last September.

Introduced by Thierry Merquiol, founder of the crowdfunding platform Wiseed, who was a guest on the very first videophone workshop run by L’Atelier founder Jean-Michel Billaut, the purpose of the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) of Watercoin WTR  is to finance the rollout of a network of 1,000 water purification stations (Kiosks), pre-sell drinking water at an affordable price and secure the transactions via Blockchain-based ‘smart contracts’ so as to prevent corrupt practices. This approach is designed to ensure the local production and distribution of some 500 million litres of drinking water every year, replacing the current highly centralised water distribution networks. The initiative is also intended to have a range of other benefits, including making a positive impact on the environment and creating local jobs for those who maintain and run the network. Going forward, the startup is planning to pursue broader aims, including developing an ecosystem that will enable people to obtain medicines, buy petrol and arrange electricity supplies. Meanwhile, this new cryptocurrency has not escaped speculative buying, although Thierry Merquiol reckons that at no more than ten times its launch value the current price is quite moderate. So, will this initiative have a really social impact? Will this ICO approach to crowdfunding with a pre-sale format really end up creating a Blockchain-based world price for drinking water?

By Claire Cavret